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DREAMWORKS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Steve Hickner, Simon J. Smith
Cast:
Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Kathy Bates, Barry Levinson, Larry King, Ray Liotta, Sting, Oprah Winfrey
Writing Credits:
Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Barry Marder, Andy Robin

Tagline:
Born to bee wild.

Synopsis:
Bee Movie is a comedy that will change everything you think you know about bees. Having just graduated from college, a bee by the name of Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) finds himself disillusioned with the prospect of having only one career choice - honey. As he ventures outside of the hive for the first time, he breaks one of the cardinal rules of the bee world and talks to a human, a New York City florist named Vanessa (Renee Zellweger). He is shocked to discover that the humans have been stealing and eating the bee's honey for centuries. He ultimately realizes that his true calling in life is to set the world right by suing the human race. That is until the ensuing chaos upsets the very balance of nature. It is up to Barry to prove that even a little bee can spell big changes in the world.

Box Office:
Budget
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$38.021 million on 3928 screens.
Domestic Gross
$126.597 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $36.98
Release Date: 3/11/2008

Bonus:
DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Directors Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner, Producer Christina Steinberg, Editor Nick Fletcher, Co-Writer Barry Marder, and Actor/Writer/Producer Jerry Seinfeld
• Lost Scenes and Alternate Endings
• “TV Juniors”
• Live-Action Trailers
• “Jerry’s Flight Over Cannes”
• “Inside the Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie” Featurette
• Previews
DVD Two:
• “Tech of Bee Movie” Featurette
• “Meet Barry B. Benson” Featurette
• “We Got the Bee” Music Video
• DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox
• “The Buzz About Bees” Featurette
• “The Ow! Meter” Interactive Feature
• “That’s Un-bee-lievable” Quiz
• “Be a Bee” Aptitude Test
• “Pollination Practice” Game


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RELATED REVIEWS


Bee Movie: Jerry's Special Edition (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 14, 2008)

Ever since his eponymous series ended in the spring of 1998, we’ve not seen a ton of Jerry Seinfeld. He’s done stand-up and a few specials but not much else to keep him in the public eye. He attempted to change that with 2007’s Bee Movie, a much-hyped animated flick that came out in the fall.

That sounds like an odd venue for his return to the big-time public eye, but in my opinion at least, it succeeded. Here Seinfeld plays the voice of Barry B. Benson, a bee about to start his career at Honex Industries. At first Barry greets his future with optimism and excitement, but when he realizes how restricted a life he and his fellow buzzers lead, he rebels.

What does Barry do? He flees the hive and decides to see what’s out in the rest of the world. He meets a human named Vanessa (Renee Zellweger) after she saves him from the impending doom of her obnoxious boyfriend Ken’s (Patrick Warburton) boot. The rest of the movie follows the unusual relationship between Barry and Vanessa along with other connected quests as Barry tries to find his niche in life.

On the negative side, Bee comes with an awfully muddled story. At times you want to shout at the screen and force the filmmakers to settle on one plot thread. Instead, the flick jumps about from one topic to another with abandon and doesn’t coalesce into anything terribly sensible and clear.

Granted, it’s probably dopey to criticize a film about a talking bee for its lack of logic. I will wax somewhat negative about the flick’s animation and design, though. In the DVD’s supplements, we’ll hear a lot of puffery about how much computing power went into the movie’s creation. That’s all well and good, but the basic work seems lackluster at best, particularly in terms of the humans. The characters show floppy, over-gesticulated movements, and too many of the designs look a lot alike; you’ll feel like you see the same people over and over again.

Despite the iffy story and the animation drawbacks, Bee is just too darned funny for me to care. Seinfeld does absolutely nothing to stretch his well-established acting personality – ie, himself – and as depicted here, that’s just fine with me. He plays an insect version of Jerry Seinfeld to solid comedic effect and creates a lot of amusing moments.

The same goes for the rest of the cast. Zellweger combines well with Seinfeld to make a likable couple, and Matthew Broderick creates a good contrast to Seinfeld as Barry’s straight-arrow pal Adam. Plenty of celebrity cameos come along the way as well. Some play themselves and others take on movie characters, but all add fun to the proceedings.

Bee Movie doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. As a film, it suffers from a mix of moderate problems that probably should render it ineffective. However, while the critic in me wants to harp on those issues, I just think the flick’s too much fun for much of that to matter. It throws tons of jokes at the wall and plenty of them stick. This is a consistently amusing and entertaining movie.


The DVD Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Bee Movie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Modern animated flicks usually look great on DVD, and Bee followed that trend.

Sharpness seemed excellent. A few wide shots appeared just a smidgen soft, but those instances were rare and not problematic. The vast majority of the flick was concise and tight. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occur, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws were also non-existent in this clean transfer.

Colors also excelled. In the hive, the movie went with a golden look, while the rest of the world showed natural, dynamic tones. The hues always looked bright and vivid. Blacks appeared deep and firm, while shadows demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. This was a consistently terrific picture.

Any flick that involves as many flying scenes as Bee Movie should boast a pretty lively Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and the results followed the expected trends. From start to finish, the flick used the soundfield in an active and involving manner. As I alluded, the many flying sequences opened things up in a dynamic way, but plenty of other elements also created a great sense of space and place. Elements were placed accurately in the spectrum and they meshed together in a smooth way. The movie kept the action intense and involving.

I also thought the quality of the sound was excellent. Speech appeared natural and concise, as the lines suffered from no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed dynamic and lively, and effects were well-rendered. Those elements came across as accurate and vivid, with clean highs and deep, tight lows. This was a strong soundtrack.

Dubbed the “Very Jerry 2-Disc Edition”, this release of Bee packs in the extras. On DVD One, we begin with an audio commentary from directors Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner, producer Christina Steinberg, editor Nick Fletcher, co-writer Barry Marder, and actor/writer/producer Jerry Seinfeld. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific piece that looks at alternate/abandon scenes, production, set and character design, cast and performances, and a few animation specifics.

With all those participants, you might expect a lively, involving chat. Unfortunately, this commentary tends to be heavy on praise and light on information. Especially during the discussion’s first half, we get tons and tons of praise for the flick and all its elements. Matters do improve as the session progresses, though; Seinfeld throws in some funny remarks and we get more substantial material. I like all of the statements about altered/cut sequences too. Unfortunately, these aren’t enough to make the commentary a winner. It has enough decent facts to be worth a listen, but it remains a disappointment.

Three Lost Scenes and six Alternate Endings appear. Taken together, these last a total of 19 minutes, 39 seconds. In the first category, we find “Barry Interview” (2:05), “The Queen” (1:42) and “Liotta on a Plane” (1:13). For the “Endings”, we get “Barry and Vanessa Fly Off Together” (2:36), “Tragic Love Triangle” (1:28), “Spanish Fly” (2:40), “Outer Space” (3:45), “Ken Flies Ultralight” (2:10) and “The Eagle Has Not Landed” (1:56). All of these come with introductions from Seinfeld, and they all appear as storyreels.

Of the three “Lost Scenes”, “Interview” is the least interesting just because it incorporates a lot of gags and info in the final flick. “Queen” is a decent tangent but not one that would’ve fit well into the story. “Plane” is the most fun of the lot, just because it brings back the hotheaded Liotta.

As for the “Endings”, the first four are variations on each other in which Barry addresses the weird romantic triangle of himself, Vanessa and Ken. “Outer Space” is the oddest of the bunch – and Seinfeld’s favorite – but I don’t think any of them are satisfying. The same goes for the final two, which are also similar. In those ones, Barry tries to arrange his wedding to Vanessa. It’s more than a little creepy, and neither would have ended the flick well. I’m happy with the current conclusion.

Some promotional spots called TV Juniors show up next. We locate 16 of these with a total running time of 21 minutes, 39 seconds. They purport to offer behind the scenes glimpses of the film’s creation, but they’re all staged vignettes created for comedic purposes. And they succeed in that regard. We get cameos from folks like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Brad Garrett in these amusing and clever pieces.

More ads show up under Live-Action Trailers. We get two of these: “Windshield” (1:55) and “Steven” (2:17). They show what Bee Movie would’ve been like as a live-action flick and include cameos from Chris Rock, Eddie Izzard and Steven Spielberg. Like the “Juniors”, they’re quite entertaining.

To see more movie promotion, we check out Jerry’s Flight Over Cannes. This three-minute and two-second clip shows Seinfeld as he takes a zip over water to get attention for the flick. It’s a pretty goofy stunt, so it’s interesting to see documentation of it.

For a look at the actors, we head to the 14-minute and 42-second Inside the Hive: The Cast of Bee Movie. It features comments from Seinfeld, Steinberg, Hickner, Smith, Fletcher, and actors Matthew Broderick, Renee Zellweger, Patrick Warburton, Chris Rock, Megan Mullaly, and Larry Miller. We hear a little about the flick’s genesis but we mostly get notes about the characters, the actors, the story and the recording process.

Make no mistake: this is essentially a long promo piece. However, I like the shots of the actors at work, and we get a few decent tidbits along the way. Don’t expect a lot from it, but it keeps us interested.

A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar: The Crate Escape, and The Spiderwick Chronicles. These also appear in the Previews areas along with a spot for the Kung Fu Panda videogame.

Over on DVD Two, the material splits into two categories. “Special Features” starts with a featurette. Tech of Bee Movie lasts seven minutes, 33 seconds and includes notes from Seinfeld, Smith, Hickner, Fletcher, Steinberg, head of digital operations Derek Chan, technology executive Kate Swanborg, DreamWorks Animation CTO Ed Leonard, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of layout Nol Meyer, head of research and development Jeff Wike, visual effects supervisor Doug Cooper, and head of effects Mahesh Ramasubramanian.

As indicated by the title, this one looks at the technical aspects of making Bee Movie. Unfortunately, it’s way too brief and superficial. The participants discuss the challenges but only offer a cursory discussion of the solutions. It ends up more as a promotional piece than anything else.

Next comes an interactive feature called Meet Barry B. Benson. This lets you select from a list of 11 questions to ask Barry; when you choose, you’ll get the “answer” from a compilation of movie clips and some basic in-character comments from Seinfeld. It never develops into anything very interesting.

A music video arrives after this. “We Got the Bee” offers an update on the old Go-go’s song – complete with altered Bee-centric lyrics. It’s a pretty dreadful cover, and even though the video includes some shots of Seinfeld, it’s no better.

For material from other films, we can move to the DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox. This allows you to watch clips from the three Shrek flicks, Shark Tale, Flushed Away, Madagascar and Over the Hedge. This lets us hear some musical numbers from the films. It feels like an ad to me, honestly, as it serves little real purpose.

Under “DreamWorks Kids”, we find five more components. The Buzz About Bees gives us a seven-minute and two-second featurette about those critters. It provides a basic overview of the facts and figures that relate to our buzzy little friends. The notes stay simple but it’s not a bad summary.

A weird informative piece comes via The Ow! Meter. If you select “Human”, you’ll learn the relative pain inflicted by the sting of five different bees. Choose “bee” and find out how much various swatting methods would hurt a bee. You can also discover “how to avoid being stung by a bee”. We get some decent basic facts here.

We find a quiz with That’s Un-bee-lievable. It provides a smattering of questions about bees to test our basic knowledge of bees. You can learn a bit more info here, though the piece gives you no reward for completion.

More questions come under Be a Bee. This aptitude test asks you about some traits and determines which hive job would be best for you. It’s harmless fun.

A game called Pollination Practice finishes the disc. This requires you to aim and fire at flowers. It could be more pointless and dull, but that’s tough to imagine.

No one will mistake Bee Movie for a great animated film, as it suffers from a few concerns. However, it delivers the laughs it promises, so it succeeds in the end. The DVD provides excellent picture and audio along with a long roster of extras. A lot of the supplements aren’t terribly worthwhile, but we still find a fair amount of interesting content. I think Bee Movie is a great deal of fun and I recommend this very good DVD.

Note that you can get Bee Movie as either a $29.98 single-disc version or this $36.98 two-DVD release. I don’t know if the one-platter edition includes all of DVD One’s supplements, but if it does, that’s the one to buy. The stuff on DVD Two of the “Very Jerry” release isn’t all that great; the fun extras are on the first disc. Save yourself a few bucks with the cheaper one if you can still get the commentary, the deleted scenes and the other materials.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.0769 Stars Number of Votes: 13
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main